Story and photos by Heidi Baumstark
Something for everyone. That’s one way to describe Valley View Farm in Delaplane. As an agritourism destination in the Crooked Run Valley of Fauquier County, it’s easy to see why locals and travelers make a trip to the farm.
Picnic tables on the lawn and seating on the front porch allow visitors to relax, savor mountain views, eat fresh food from the market, and try their hand in an old-fashioned game of bean-bag toss. During the busy peach and apple seasons, there’s even live music on the Red Barn’s front porch.
Philip Carter Strother and his wife, Danielle, own the 500-acre farm that has been in the Strother family for five generations. The Strothers are continuing the tradition that started with Philip Strother’s great grandfather, George Thomas Strother, who purchased the land in the 1920s along with farmland in Markham and Hume. The fifth generation are the Strothers’ three sons: Landon, 18, and 16-year-old twins Philip and Carter.
In May 2018, Valley View opened their wine and hard cider tasting room inside the old Red Barn, home to the Locavore Farm Market. Valley View brews their own Gnarled Orchard Hard Cider in two flavors: peach and apple; next fall, look for blueberry, blackberry, and cherry ciders. There is also a five-acre vineyard with plans for 40 more.
From April through November, Locavore Farm Market sells wines from the Strothers’ other property (Philip Carter Winery in Hume), meads, organic vegetables from the farm’s garden, jams, sauces, honey, pickles, local cheeses, meats, and free-range, brown eggs from Rhode Island Red chickens. The market also carries décor pieces from their Orchard Branch Collection, which are handcrafted rustic candle holders and hand-painted signs made from wooden wine barrels, farm products, and equipment from the farm.
What would fall be without a fun corn maze, apple picking, and old-fashioned hayrides to the pumpkin patch to pick-your-own pumpkin? Visitors can also purchase bags to fill up with pick-your-own fruits to take home. From the farm’s own honey, visitors can try Noble Hive Mead, a refreshing peach mead. In the spring, the farm will offer more hayrides, farm tours, and honey tastings.There’s even hand-rolled ice cream that incorporates peaches from the farm.
“What we don’t grow here we source from local farms,” Strother said, “like certified organic farm meats from Hidden Creek Farm in Delaplane.”
“Wear your jeans, your comfortable shoes, pick fruit, and enjoy a glass of wine on the porch. We incorporate it all—for all ages. We hope people feel good ‘ole southern hospitality.”
“In the early 1990s, my dad [Charles Edward Strother, Jr.] started a pick-your-own peach orchard and a cattle/sheep operation; he grew up in the stone house on the property,” said Strother. It was Strother’s grandfather, Charles Edward Strother, Sr., who built that stone house in 1926 working on the farm from 1926 to 1987; he also built the Red Barn in the 1920s originally as a horse barn. A neighbor and the famous General George S. Patton (1885-1945), “came out to ride horses with my grandfather, who went by ‘Ed,’” Strother added.
“We’re here to oversee the land, preserve it, and to make it better after we’re gone,” Strother remarked. “I refer myself as a steward instead of an owner.” And he knows all about land stewardship considering he is a 12th generation descendant of Robert “King” Carter, I (1662/63-1732), a powerful Virginia landowner, one of the wealthiest men in the colonies who acquired the moniker “King” from his political power, wealth, and autocratic business methods.
Two of “King” Carter’s sons: Charles Carter (1707-1764) of Cleve Plantation in King George County, and his younger brother, Landon Carter (1710-1778) of Sabine Hall in Richmond County, had begun grape growing in the mid-1700s, crafting wines from native and European varietals. But before then, grape growing and wine production had been part of Virginia’s culture dating back to 1619 with the adoption of the Twelfth Act of the Original Acts of the Virginia General Assembly, which required every landowner to grow and maintain ten vines.
“As a kid, I remember coming out to the farm on weekends from Fairfax County before Route 66 was finished; we’d drive down Route 55,” Strother reminisced. “We’d help around the farm and the cattle operation. I remember camping at the top of the mountain—a nice memory with my dad.”
Now all visitors can make memories on the farm. “Come out for a true Virginia farm experience,” said Strother. “Leave your pretentions at home and come to the farm. Walk the land, pick the fruit, feed the sheep, sit on the porch.”
David Harrelson, of Vienna, recently visited Valley View with his wife, Stephanie, and her father, Kent Mundhenk, who was visiting from Texas. “It’s nice to get out and forget there’s a sprawling metropolis out there. We came trying to get away from the urban area,” said Harrelson. “It’s an interactive experience on the farm. It doesn’t get any closer to farm-to-table than here. It just doesn’t,” said Strother.
Feel like staying overnight? No problem. The property has lodging in a rustic farmhouse Airbnb that Strother’s mother, Kathy, manages. In August, Dan and Anne Olesnicky of Palm Springs stayed there. “The peach wine is the bomb. Most are too sweet. Being from California, we’re used to really good wines and you’re definitely there,” he said. ML
Valley View Farm is located at 1550 Leeds Manor Road in Delaplane. To sign up for the Farmline newsletter, go to www.valleyviewva.com.
This article first appeared in the November 2019 issue of Middleburg Life.